Well the White House is giving the Illinois Department of Corrections a bailout by acquiring the currently empty $140 million Thomson Correctional Facility near Thomson, IL. The Illinois Senate Minority Leader, Christine Radogno, says that the purchase price should be no less than $250 million. The residents of Thomson are not worried about the safety concerns, but welcome the jobs. The Des Moines Register reports that it’ll be a $1 Billion boot to the local economy:
A White House economic analysis estimates the prison would have an economic impact in Illinois and Iowa of between $900 million and $1.1 billion over a four-year period. This would include construction, operation costs, compensation and visitors.
The forecast said that between 3,180 and 3,880 permanent jobs would be created. About 80 percent of the jobs would go to Illinois residents, while 20 percent would be filled by Iowans.
Granted these are White House numbers and based on their accounting practices with the stimulus, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. The Obama Administration says that no more than 100 Gitmo prisoners will be transferred to Thomson. They will mostly transfer other federal prisoners.
Outside of the security issues involved, I’m concerned by the fiscal implications of this. I can understand why Thomson and the surrounding area that has been hard hit by the recession is excited. I can understand why the Illinois Legislature and Governor’s office support this deal, as it bails them out from the screw-up of building the prison to begin with. This is great for the state of Illinois, but for the federal taxpayer, not so much. Do we really need another federal prison? Are they going to shut one down? They are essentially purchasing this for Gitmo transfers when they have a perfectly good facility that’s doing the job.
Which now brings us to the safety issues, at Gitmo these prisoners are isolated from U.S. citizenry. There is no place for them to escape, and the potential of a terrorist attack is virtually nil. But now we are bringing terrorists to the heartland.
Not everyone in Illinois is happy about this move, Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) says it is an unnecessary risk.
Kirk says that the White House seems to be governing by deadline, and that they haven’t really thought through the implications of bringing these terrorists classified as enemy combatants to the United States without a held without trial, suspending our rights of habeas corpus within the United States as the executive branch is constitutionally prohibited to hold people in the United States without trial.
This move just doesn’t make sense. Another Illinois Representative, Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) says that changing Gitmo’s address doesn’t change terrorists motives:
Those terrorists still remaining in GITMO are among the world’s most dangerous warriors. They are wickedly creative in thinking out of the box when contemplating doing us harm, as evidenced by the attacks of September 11, 2001. They command the loyalty of thousands of fellow jihadists around the world and have complete control over the minds of followers, both in detention and on the outside. On a whim, they can—and have—ordered those under their command to commit suicide at a moment’s notice.
I have enormous respect for American military personnel who will guard Thomson along with civilian law enforcement. These professionals will undoubtedly be well-trained and dedicated to protecting the public. But they will be responsible for guarding the largest terrorist cell in the world.
Those in favor of closing GITMO do not seem to get the fact that terrorists are not going to be mollified by simply changing the address of the terrorist’s prison. Rather than satisfying the left-wing base and attempting to win an international public relations battle, we should keep the state-of-the-art detention facility in GITMO open rather than bringing these terrorists to small town America. Terrorists need to be tried in military tribunals, as opposed to civil American courts that come with an array of rights of the accused, appropriate for criminals but not for terrorists.
How will this decision make America safer? It doesn’t. Even the creation of government sector jobs (the only type this Administration knows how to create) isn’t worth it.